Homeowner grabs violent Columbus Hilltop property

If Columbus Police weren’t called to the South Burgess Avenue rental property for a flurry of drug-related offenses and other crimes, then officers witnessed it directly during the surveillance operations.

For more than two years, drug dealing and drug use – not to mention the violent crimes that activity seems to inevitably trigger – have been routinely documented in each of the four separate units making up the two-story house on the city’s West Side. .

But earlier this month, each resident of the four-unit rental home was ordered to vacate the premises so the property could be condemned.

Columbus City Attorney’s Office Zach Klein said on Tuesday it had obtained an emergency court order against 56-62 South Burgess Ave., where police have been dispatched more than 80 times since September 2019.

Columbus Police make multiple visits to an apartment building on South Burgess Avenue

Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Stephanie Mingo issued the order on November 2 after Columbus police made several secret purchases of fentanyl and crack at 62. S. Burgess Ave. These operations resulted in the execution by the police on two occasions of a search warrant throughout the residence in which, in total, they seized three handguns, suspected drugs and nearly $ 1,000 in cash, according to court documents.

Over the past two years, police have been dispatched to the property for five burglaries, two stab wounds, three drug overdoses and more than two dozen other complaints, including general unrest, domestic incidents and phone calls. ‘weapons, according to court records. In addition, ShotSpotter technology had alerted police to the detection of gunfire on three occasions.

The owner, who resides in California, inherited the issues with the property when he bought it blind on May 6, Klein’s office said. The owner barricaded the premises on purpose and is now under court injunction to keep the property in compliance with nuisance reduction codes, court documents show.

“This is another example of the potential problems that arise when an absent owner, no matter how well meaning, acquires a property without even visiting the site,” Klein said in a written statement. “We hope that keeping this property locked up will put an end to criminal activity and give the owner time to renovate the building and bring it up to the standards the surrounding neighborhood deserves.”

Rental properties in Columbus: city lawyer fights violations, crime

The building is one of several rental properties across Columbus that have attracted unwanted attention for a multitude of issues, from relentless criminal activity to unresolved code violations.

Across town, Klein’s office has waged a two-year battle to force the owners of the Colonial Village apartment complex on the town’s East Side and its property managers to either make improvements or cope. to sanctions. More recently, Klein’s office asked a judge in late August to evict the owners of Colonial Village, who it said failed to comply with a previous court order to address the code violations and address the lingering issues that have made life unhealthy and dangerous.

Theodore Decker: Strength in numbers can help city fight to clean up the East Side complex

Residents of Colonial Village have complained for years that conditions have deteriorated rapidly, with a failing sewage system, rampant crime, unrecovered garbage and uncut lawns among the problems. The city would like to see a third party receiver appointed to oversee the improvements and eventual sale of the property to the new owners.

More recently, 37 families were displaced on November 6 when a fire broke out in one of the four buildings at Village Court Apartments in Northland. In the past five years, housing inspectors have reported a violation of the code to the owners of the complex on 21 occasions, citing 160 violations at the property, which is home to many immigrants and former refugees.

For subscribers: 37 families displaced by fire in Northland apartments with 160 code violations since 2016

On the South Burgess Avenue property, each of the four units has been the site of suspected criminal activity.

Among the alleged incidents was a call on August 29, 2020 to 58 S. Burgess Ave., where officers found an unconscious woman naked in the alley behind the building.

Investigators learned that a resident provided the victim with fentanyl earlier in the morning and then took her to the alley, where he left her when she began to overdose. The victim subsequently contacted the police to inform them that she also believed to have been the victim of a sexual assault.

But while all four units were involved in the police service calls, the 62 S. Burgess Ave. and the unit just above at 60. S. Burgess Avenue seemed to attract the most problems, according to records. Police regularly monitored the property with a focus on these two units, which has repeatedly resulted in the arrest of a suspected drug trafficker or user and the confiscation of drug paraphernalia, court records show.

In an incident on July 28, police arrested a motorist who had been observed making what appeared to be a drug deal with a resident of the house. Police reported the man was in possession of an alleged 16 grams of crack cocaine, records show.

On September 2, police responded to a report of stabbing near the residence and followed a trail of blood that led to 62 S. Burgess Avenue. Twelve people were inside, including the victim, who claimed to have been stabbed with a crack pipe.

On September 14, undercover Columbus Police detectives executed a search warrant on the premises after previously making two secret purchases of fentanyl. Detectives found eight people inside, including a suspected member of a known gang. Detectives seized a handgun loaded with three live ammunition from the magazine, suspected fentanyl and $ 953 in cash.

Two days later, Columbus SWAT agents apprehended an individual in the rear of the unit who had an active murder warrant.

Another search warrant was executed on October 12, once again after undercover agents and a confidential informant bought crack cocaine from an individual at the scene. Officers seized two handguns during the search.

Now that the property is temporarily closed, a status conference is scheduled for Jan. 27, according to the court order.

“The pattern of violence and crime at this property posed a continuing threat to the area, especially given its location in a dense residential area that is also home to several small businesses,” Deputy City Attorney Zach Gwin said. , who is the Zone Initiative attorney assigned to Zone Three on the city’s West Side, said in a written statement. “We greatly appreciate the court that issued the order and would like to thank the Columbus Police Division for their diligent work in helping us build our case.”

Eric Lagatta is a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch covering public safety, breaking news and social justice issues. Contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EricLagatta

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